Gammalsvenskby (Ukraina) (Ut) 8 (1920-1921) Image 160 / page 64 (AID: v99903.b160.s64, NAD: SE/ViLA/23094) Link.
In the Baltic Sea, west of Estonia’s mainland is the island of Dagö. There was a Swedish speaking peasant settlement on Dagö that was believed to have been founded in the 1200’s. Other Swedish settlements existed along Estonia’s coast and nearby islands. Dagö belonged to Sweden from 1563 to 1721 and was an important Swedish territory in Estonia.
Under the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, Dagö was ceded to Russia. In 1781, the Russian Empress Catherine II forced the resettlement of about 1,000 Dagö-Swedes to Ukraine. Many died during the long march but those who survived founded the community of Gammalsvenskby.
Despite nearly no contact with Sweden, the population of Gammalsvenskby preserved their traditions and Lutheran faith. They even retained the old “östsvenska” dialect. Towards the end of the 1800’s some contact with Sweden was restored and in 1885 a new Swedish church opened.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917 and a devastating famine, many Swedish colonists requested to leave the Soviet Union and return to Sweden. In 1929, 881 villagers arrived in Sweden; only a few chose to remain in Ukraine. Most of the returnees settled in Gotland.
Along with the returnees came the Gammalsvenskby’s church books. Pastor Kristofer Hoas was responsible for seeing that these books were sent to Sweden. Up until his death in 1941, Pastor Hoas continued to send the church books to Sweden. In 1947, the archive was transferred to the county archives (today’s regional archive) in Visby, where we have recently photographed the documents.
You can find the Gammalsvenskby’s church books in ArkivDigital by entering Gammalsvenskby in the search box.